Perhaps the One Thing I’ll Miss About Derek Jeter…

…Is making unflattering customs of His Jeterness.

Like this one:
2014 TSR #300 Derek Jeter

…or this one from the 2012 TSR set.
2012 TSR Custom Derek Jeter

Mets fans like me will clearly have to make some adjustments.  I mean, Chipper’s gone.  Jeter will be gone.  What’s a Mets fan to do?  Whom shall I mock?  Whom shall I regard with disdain?

Sorry, Bryce Harper fans.  Looks like your boy’s next.
2014 TSR #600 Bryce Harper

2012 Card #18 - Highlight Harper

“Hey, Mets Fans… Are These Guys Boring You?”

“…Come and talk to us.  We’re from a different country.”

I wouldn’t put it past the Blue Jays to use a Zaphod Beeblebrox pickup line on the Mets faithful.  It occurred to me that, intentionally or not, they’re doing a lot to ensure that the interest of Mets fans ends up directed north of the border.  Think about it…

They’ve got the guy who rose to stardom, became a fan favorite and won a Cy Young with the Mets…
2012 Card #720 - R.A. Dickey Cy Young

They’ve got the guy who was an 4-time All-Star and also a favorite of many Mets fans…
2011 Sticker Jose Reyes

They’ve got the Mets’ 2012 starting catcher…

2011 Sticker Josh Thole

…and one of his backups…
2011 Topps Mike Nickeas

Their new AAA affiliate is the Buffalo Bisons, the Mets top farm team for the past 4 years…

2011 Topps Pro Debut Kirk Nieuwenhuis

Heck, even their manager is a former Met.

1987 Donruss John Gibbons

Their filthy Canadian schemes won’t work on me, though… Not as long as I’m also an Orioles fan.

Well, OK, maybe I’ll root for the Blue Jays, perhaps they can win the Wild Card while the O’s win the division.  But no matter who the Jays acquire, I’m never calling their home ballpark anything but the SkyDome.

White Sox Throwbacks: Bringing Back 1983

Last year the Chisox celebrated the 40th anniversary of their 1972 team with these nice throwbacks…
Seventy Faux #5 Gordon Beckham

This year, they’ll celebrate the 30th anniversary of their division-winning 1983 team by wearing these at Sunday home games:
2012-13 Hot Stove #11 - Addison Reed
These are OK, but I like last year’s throwbacks better.

I’m not generally in favor of the White Sox doing throwbacks for the sole reason that the uniforms they’re wearing now are the best in their history. The White Sox wearing throwback uniforms is like someone being married to Anne Hathaway while hanging portraits of ex-wife Hillary Clinton in their house.

——

Just a heads-up for those still working on their 2012 Topps set – my local Target didn’t have 2013 series 1, but they have (or had) loose packs of 2012 Series 2 on sale for $1 a pop.  I still need over 100 cards from Series 2, but someone had already scooped up all the packs.  Maybe you’ll have better luck.

Wrapping Up My Favorite 2012 Orioles

Chris Davis lead the Orioles with 85 RBI and 33 homers, including homering in 6 straight games in the last week of the regular season.  He has played wherever he’s been asked to play, and pitched 2 scoreless innings earlier this year. How can you not like a guy like this?

Nate McLouth was signed to a minor-league contract last spring, the team liked what they saw in Norfolk, called him up and he’s been fun to watch.  The guy’s had an interesting career:

  • An All-Star and Gold Glove Winner with the Pirates
  • Traded to Braves to open a spot for Andrew McCutchen; Disappointed to be traded to Braves, Braves disappointed to have traded for him.
  • Back to Pirates; Disappointing with Pirates; released.
  • Signed to minor league contract with Norfolk
  • Got attitude adjustment in AAA
  • A revelation with the Orioles, both at bat and in the field.

He was a free agent, but I’m happy to say the Orioles have re-signed him.

Xavier Avery’s another player who’s fun to watch, and he has a great name.  It’s fun just listening to the announcers say his name very deliberately, so it doesn’t come out as Xaviavieriereerry.

…And with this post, the 2012 TSR card design gets retired.  I’ve got several designs I’m messing with for 2013, I hope you’ll like what I come up with.

Favorite 2012 Orioles – Pitchers

Continuing the series on my favorite Orioles of 2012…

Mrs. S and I like Jeremy Guthrie, so we were very disappointed when he was traded to the Rockies last February… but we have no complaints about Jason Hammel, one of the pitchers the Orioles got in return. He was a very pleasant surprise for the Orioles before a knee injury took him out of most of the second half of the season. Among the highlights of his season were a one-hit shutout of the Braves and a 10 strikeout win over the Nationals. This custom was  one I’d made just after the trade, and involves an amateur photoshopping of his cap & jersey (which underwent a pinstripe-ectomy).

Wei-Yin Chen is a Taiwanese veteran of Nippon Pro Baseball;  although his stats aren’t overwhelming (12-11, 4.02), he was very good in the first half of the season and was the only Oriole to make more than 20 starts this year.  He outpitched Andy Pettitte in Game 2 of the ALDS, giving up on run in 6.1 innings. This card should have a “Notable Newbies” banner at the top; that was an oversight on my part. Call it an uncorrected error.

Darren O’Day went 7-1 with a 2.28 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP as as a reliever.

If nothing else, I’ll remember Darren O’Day for his Solowheel, a sort of one-wheeled Segway… I always think of it as the 21st century version of the wheels the cavemen ride in the comic strip “B.C.”  It was also the subject of a prank played on O’Day by Buck Showalter, which was shown on the MLB Fan Cave.

Steve Johnson is a rookie who seemed like he should’ve gotten more starts than he did.  Every time a spot in the rotation came up ‘TBD”, we’d be yelling “GIVE A START TO STEVE!” at the TV… Even when we were watching Person Of Interest.  Yes, our neighbors think we’re weird.

His father is former Orioles pitcher Dave Johnson.  In fact, Steve’s first Major League win, a 9-strikeout start against the Mariners, came on August 8th;  his father’s first win was also on August 8th, but in 1989;  he shut out the Twins.
1990 Topps #416 - Dave Wayne Johnson RC (Rookie Card) - Courtesy of CheckOutMyCards.com

I’ll Miss Both Robert And Dino (More Favorite 2012 Orioles)

Robert Andino, who was traded to the Mariners yesterday, has been the Orioles “super sub” for the past couple of years, and spent much of this past season as the starter at second. Andino’s by no means an all-star, and batted only .211 this year, but he played second, short, third, left and center, all while flashing some impressive leather.  Andino became a favorite of Orioles fans and Red Sox haters when he had the game-winning hit in the last game of 2011, the win that helped knock the Red Sox out of the playoffs.
He is eligible for arbitration, so the Orioles would likely have non-tendered him had they not traded him to Seattle.

Ryan Flaherty’s another super-sub type; he was a Rule 5 guy who not only stuck with the team all year, he also played every position except center, pitcher and catcher, and played well enough to be on the postseason roster.

Earlier this year, Omar Quintanilla had become one of my favorite Mets just from the way he fields his position.  The Orioles picked him up in July and he was a revelation – at first.  He fielded, he hit like crazy at Camden Yards… and then he cooled off, and then he stopped playing.  I doubt he’ll be back in 2013, but I enjoyed his season so much I started an Omar Quintanilla player collection (4 cards and counting).

Manny Machado… What do you say about him, other than (to paraphrase the movie “Clerks”) he wasn’t even supposed to be here… and “here” could be either Baltimore or third base. Machado is a shortstop who was the third overall pick of the 2010 draft, and was the #11 prospect in all of baseball according to Baseball America. When he was called up and put in at third base, a position he hadn’t played much in the minors, it seemed like a risky move… but the kid came through and made some unbelievable plays in the field. While his hitting wasn’t quite at a Trout level, it was still plenty good enough for a kid fresh out of AA.

Steve Tolleson is another favorite Oriole who’s already gone. He became a minor league free agent and signed with the White Sox. There’s no particular reason for my liking him, I just latched on to him for some reason… I guess because  I’m partial to infielders and underdogs.

By the way, Steve is the son of former Major Leaguer Wayne Tolleson:

1983 Topps Traded #114T - Wayne Tolleson - Courtesy of CheckOutMyCards.com

1983 Topps Traded #114T – Wayne Tolleson – Courtesy of CheckOutMyCards.com

Congratulations to R.A. Dickey!

A fan of another team might’ve had a post like this ready in advance, brimming with optimism that their player would certainly win a given award.

Ah, but I’m a Mets fan who has had most of his optimism beaten out of him over the course of 39 seasons, and as a result I’m scrambling to make a custom card while wolfing down breakfast.

I’m so unprepared for this accolade for one of my Mets that I’m not even aware of the specifics… “He’s the first Met to win since… what, Dwight Gooden?” (Yep, Doc won in 1985).

But I couldn’t be happier for R.A.; over the course of his career he’s gone from “That guy who lost most of his signing bonus after an orthopedic consultant saw his photo on the cover of Baseball America” to being my favorite current Met and one of my newest “guys I collect”.

I can only hope that in 2013 he’ll continue to be fun to watch, and continue to be a Met.

My Favorite 2012 Orioles, Part 2: The Gold Glovers

The Orioles had three different Gold Glove winners this year, much to my surprise… Not that I think any of the three are not worthy, but I’m just used to my teams getting snubbed for these types of things. Unlike so many things with the Orioles, the last time the Orioles had multiple Gold Gloves in one year was not 1997, but rather 1998 when Mike Mussina, Rafael Palmeiro and Roberto Alomar won at their positions. At least Raffy actually played first base that year… in 1999, while with Texas, Palmeiro won the Gold Glove despite the fact that he played only 28 games at first, and appeared in 128 other games as a DH.

…but I digress…

J.J. Hardy became my favorite Oriole last year, he was just so much fun to watch in the field… in fact, the t-shirt I wear to Orioles games is an orange J.J. Hardy faux jersey. It’s hard to believe that the Orioles got Hardy and Brendan Harris from the Twins for Brett Jacobson and Jim Hoey, neither of whom are in the Twins organization anymore.

Although J.J. didn’t hit for much average this year, he had 22 homers and 68 RBI, not bad for a defensive shortstop.

Matt Wieters is also fun to watch, especially when someone tries to run on him (not usually a good idea). Because Matt Wieters cards are few and far between, I’ve made a few customs of Mr. Wieters. I could show another one here, but I’d rather show off my relatively new Matt Wieters collection. I got this 2010 Upper Deck card – my first real Wieters – at the National.

…and a month or so later I got what I consider the “key card” to the Triple Play set .

I showed this card to Mrs. Shlabotnik; she laughed and said that the image looks more like Matthew Perry than Matt Wieters. As Chandler Bing would say, “That is SO not Matt Wieters!”

I had to defend Adam Jones to some co-workers after he misjudged a ball against the Yankees. Someone pointed out that he was so nonchalant about it that he was blowing a bubble while going after the ball, and I had to explain that he always blows bubbles when going after a ball… it’s not an indication of effort or focus, that’s just Adam. Incidentally, this was his second Gold Glove; he won the first in 2009.

Looking Back At 2012: My Favorite O’s, Part 1

Now that the World Series is over, I wanted to pay tribute to some of my favorite players from the 2012 Orioles team, the first Orioles team since 1997 to get a taste of the postseason.  I’m really proud of this team, and it’s nice to be able to wear an Orioles t-shirt in public without getting snarky comments.

Miguel Gonzalez only got one contract offer from a Major League organization last winter, almost went to pitch in the Mexican League, wasn’t even a Spring Training invite, and he ended up his season starting Game 3 in the ALDS against the Yankees… and for those of you who think it might’ve been a desperation move on the Orioles part, Miguel struck out 8 Yankees, walked none, gave up 1 earned run over 7 innings, but got a no-decision thanks to homers in the 9th and 12th by Raul Ibanez.

During the regular season Miguel was 9-4, with a 3.25 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP.  Not bad for a guy who started off as a reliever in AAA Norfolk.

Jim Thome impressed me this season, more for what he does off the field than what he does on the field. He did OK as a DH, a shadow of what he used to be, but still a good player. However, when he’s not on the field, he’s always hanging on the front railing of the dugout, talking to manager Buck Showalter or somebody else… I just never realized how much of a “baseball guy” Thome is.  I could easily see him as a coach or manager after his playing days are over.

A Day Late And A Common Short: Confusion, Brian Roberts And Other Things

It all started with the best of intentions, and as things tend to go, things went awry. I have all these scanned images that I never get around to posting, so I figured I’d use the birthdays of players I collect as an excuse to talk about why I collect that player. So, I made a list and figured out that Brian was the next birthday coming up, and I said “Perfect! I’ve got something like 100 different Brian cards, I can pick out a few and write about them on his birthday this Thursday!”

So, I had the post partially written and then – too late – realized that Thursday isn’t Brian’s birthday, it is Ty Wigginton’s birthday. I’d screwed up my posts. Again.

…But I can see some eyes glazing over out there – wait, no! Don’t close this browser tab I’ll get to Brian Roberts and leave the blogging ennui for the end.

My wife, who loves Brian Roberts, makes a point of looking for Brian in the dugout at the playoff games… Yes, he’s there along with Nick Markakis and some other Orioles not on the playoff roster. It’s a damn shame that Brian can’t participate in the playoff games after spending so many years playing with not-good Orioles teams. Hopefully he’ll be able to be the starting second baseman again, but it’s hard to stay optimistic.

Brian used to be the “marquee” player for the Orioles, he used to be the team’s All-Star representative, he’d be in every base set, many of the insert sets and on the team’s souvenir drink cups, pocket schedules and media guides. Now because of his injuries and being eclipsed by other players, he’s something of an afterthought. I don’t think Brian had more than one card this year, Topps Series 2 (that’s disregarding parallels, which I don’t collect).  It just ain’t right, I tell  you.  Someone should do something about it!  Someone with the ability to make a 2012 card for Brian Roberts!

…someone like me…

So best of luck to Brian, best of luck to the Orioles, we’ll see what happens this month and next year.

OK, so getting back to the navel-gazing…  Lately, I’ve been having sort of a mid-life crisis blog-wise… I’ve been blogging for about 11 months, enjoying the heck out of it and doing my best to post something/anything on a daily basis.  Lately, though, I’ve become dissatisfied overall because I never quite get around to those posts which take more time to write, or time to create these custom cards I have floating around in my head.

No, I haven’t hit the wall, I haven’t burned out… but posting every day is not getting me where I want to be, so I’m going to cut back on my schedule a little bit and try to figure out where I’m going and how to get there.  I just figured I’d let all my faithful readers (thanks, Ed and Jeannette!) know what’s going on.

The souvenir drink cup reminds me; I used to start every Orioles game with a Coke and a brat, but that was before they had the Natty Boh brats, which I don’t care for.  I’ve been having trouble finding something to replace the brat, so if anybody has a suggestion of food I should try at Camden Yards, let me know.